All that glisters is not gold. Or so William Shakespeare wrote. And when it comes to the second full-length from American electro fiends Glasser, The Bard is most certainly being proved correct. It’s a shiny little thing. It certainly sparkles. And its glittery glam-pop is recorded by techno producer Van Rivers in stellar fashion, teasing out its every superb crystal-clear shimmer. But compared to the dirty gem-packed debut album Ring, their follow-up turns out to be more style than substance in a way that the Bard would appreciate. Is this a problem? Well, no, except that it needs a lot more than a dazzling sonic display to make it work.
The most obvious area of failure is the lyrics. Take the tune New Year. Against a backdrop of a deliriously-ticking timebomb of a clock and a killer bassline that sounds like a bassoon riff played through the ‘tropical’ patch on an old Casio keyboard, singer Cameron Mesirow shares:
Once I crossed a man I knew before
He watched as I waved and
I’m sure that he saw me
Written in the dust said
‘What’s it all for?’
I’m sure I don’t know
But I know it’s worth knowing
And how I know if I was wrong?
There are more examples of her cringeworthy writing. Plenty more. How about on Keam Theme, with its icy four-to-the-floor phaser blasts, as she coos through more than a touch of auto-tune:
Remember when we went through
That dream when I came to you
And we held each other on a trash pile
And we thought it odd
But we knew it was ours
How long before I know you?
Ouch. Ok, it’s best not to pay too much attention to the lyrics. But the situation is certainly not improved by Cameron insisting on mimicking the same lyrical phrasing and intonation as Björk – which was not the case on the messy yet magical Ring. While she has a very strong voice, growing in confidence in stature, tone and strength by the day, Björk’s lyrics and singing style is clearly a very hard act to follow. So where does that leave things? Wishing for an instrumental version of the album, perhaps.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water as there are still some strong musical moments to be found. Just rewind to opener Shape, with its echoed hoots and hollers, queasy keyboard stabs and the delayed entry of a seriously nasty descending bassline. It’s followed by the jaunty Design and its breathy chorus and high-impact bass wobbles. And then there’s the R&B-soaked vibe of ballad Landscape, with its searing dose of violin as it slowly unfolds across four perfect minutes, closed out by the heady charge of a dusky, metronomic drumkit. So while these moments of musical wonderment are littered across the album with apparently complete ease, it’s just a crying shame they are just so badly let down by Cameron’s lyrics and singing.
However, there is at least a hint of a conceptual peg to hang your coat on. The three tracks – Window i, Window ii and Window iii – suggest a logic to the Interiors theme. Perhaps it’s the change of cities for Cameron, who recently swapped the megalithic Los Angeles for the metropolis of New York? Either way, the sub-two minute ditties appear out of sequence and fail to offer much narrative glue to stick the album together. But at least they threatened to provide some structure to an album that sounds great but leaves you starved of proper sustenance.